JOINT REVIEW: Magic Tides by Ilona Andrews

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In this brand-new Kate Daniels novella, Kate and Curran have recently relocated to Wilmington and are renovating their new house fortress. Their contractor’s son is a friend of Conlan’s and when Darin, the boy’s teenaged cousin, is kidnapped by a gang called the Red Horn, Conlan lets Kate know. Of course, Kate can’t stand by and do nothing (and pretty clearly Conlan wants her to do something), so with the kidnapped boy’s father, Thomas, alongside her, Kate charges into the gang’s headquarters to kick ass and (literally) take names.

It turns out that slavers have already transported the boy elsewhere and Kate and Thomas follow a series of tips to get there before something terrible happens to Darin. While doing so, they run into the head knight at the Wilmington chapter of the Order, the legatus in charge of the People’s Wilmington base, the Farm, and the local shapeshifters. And of course, Kate must confront the powerful villain behind the kidnapping. Like any Kate Daniels book, it’s an action-and-humor filled ride from start to finish, and Sirius and I decided to review it together. Here is our joint review. — Janine

Janine: I liked this novella but I think after ten books the more recent ones are starting to feel like something I’ve read before. I was glad Kate, Curran and Conlan have moved to Wilmington because it was nice for the setting and side characters to be different.

I would have liked the authors to show that Kate and Curran are seven years older in more ways. Even if they don’t physically age (though I’m not clear on that), thirty-seven feels different than thirty. Except for one comment Kate made about how the kidnapping of children felt so much worse once you had a child yourself, that wasn’t shown, I felt.

Sirius: I liked this novella a lot. It did not knock my socks off but I did like it a lot. I actually was glad that the characters didn’t change much. I thought Kate changed enough between first and tenth book. I personally believe that most people don’t undergo significant personality changes between thirty and thirty-seven, but that’s just my personal experience. Of course as you said we get a hint that the changes that did happen to her were because of her being a parent. That was just a hint but because it is just a novella I was fine with that.

What I am trying to say I was glad to see the familiarity. I would not have wanted to see the rehashed plots in details for sure, but the familiarity that I saw I welcomed.

Janine: I don’t mean I wanted changes in personality, I mean I wanted more reactions to changes in their lives. They have left Atlanta now—do they miss it at all? Did Kate still feel that suppressed call to claim the city after she defeated Roland these past seven years? How did she deal with it? Julie has grown up and left—how did Kate feel about her having left the nest, even after they made up? Is she glad she still has Conlan home at least but worried he’ll grow up fast? Is she glad to see him make a new friend in the new neighborhood? Worried about how other kids might view him at the new school?

Personalities don’t change much but thirty-seven is still a different place in life from thirty. It’s different to have an adult daughter from a teenage daughter, for example.

Sirius: Ah thanks for clarifying. I guess I think Kate would not have enough time to think all these thoughts, or more precisely to share all of her thoughts with the readers in this specific story. She was concentrating on eliminating the threat so her main thoughts are about such threat IMO. And we do hear IMO that Julie is on her thoughts constantly. She shares how Julie would have viewed the cages, she wishes Julie were with her. Another character reminds her of Julie.

To me this was enough, for this specific story. I would not mind seeing all you mentioned, but I did not think long thoughts about her kids belonged in this novella.

As to Conlan growing up she talks about how Conlan basically manipulated her even for a good cause ( I am trying not to be spoilerish but she talks about him sharing sandwiches with his friend and then introducing the problem to Kate). I think she noticed that her boy is growing up, but maybe I am stretching.

Janine: Of course she noticed, she’s his mother. I didn’t want her thoughts to be long, or to have all the ones I mentioned (three or so would have been enough for me), but I wanted her thoughts more focused on the changes that have happened in the seven-year interval. It boils down to this: show me the passage of time, because it didn’t feel like seven years had gone by.

Curran and Conlan’s POVs are included and that was another element that added some freshness. I was hoping there would be more of Conlan’s POV because I really liked that.

Sirius: Conlan actually to me read way older than eight, but again I could be wrong. I know he is supposed to be super advanced for his age but I still didn’t quite buy it. To me he read more like eleven or twelve.

Janine: I agree that he read as older than he was (to me he read more like ten), especially in regard to some of the vocabulary he used. I wished they’d worked out a more distinct voice for him from Kate and Curran’s but I’m hopeful that this is something that will get better in future books.

Sirius: Yes, I hope Conlan’s voice will be worked out too.

Janine: Do you have any other thoughts about the book? Thinks you liked or disliked that happened? Things you wanted to happen that didn’t happen?

Sirius: I loved Kate’s kicking ass and taking names, very much. I just went with the flow here and there was nothing that I wanted or expect to happen. I would have loved more Kate and Curran on page together, but at the same time I think it also showed how much Curran matured and learned not to be an overprotective person and just easily agreed to her doing her kicking ass thing no matter how much he worried.

Janine: Yes, that was nice.

I really liked the People’s Wilmington headquarters, the Farm. It was so different from the Casino. Barrett Shaw, the legatus in charge of it, is very different from Ghastek, too.

Sirius: Funny, I always liked People less than other populations of the books. I mean nothing against them per se, but vampires as I may have mentioned in my other reviews of different books are just not really my thing. On the other hand, I really like that in these books vampires are not romantic characters, but just manikins which the People navigate in battles and beyond.

The Farm was definitely interesting, I am just not sure yet about liking it.

Janine: I’m not a fan of the People either, their vampires are off-putting (they are supposed to be). But they serve an important purpose in the books.

The last part of the book takes place on a ship (hopefully not a spoiler). It’s not something we’ve seen before and the ocean/water magic stuff was cool. At one point Kate finds herself in a tight spot and the way she got out of that situation was great.

Sirius: I liked the ship, battle, and water being, yes. I always love the magic they bring to life in their books.

Janine: Another thing I liked was how Thomas’s view of Kate evolved. It was satisfying.

Sirius: One more thing which I not exactly did not like but which felt weird to me was the conversation with the teacher in the very beginning of the story. I liked it, it promised great things about Conlan in school and then it went nowhere, absolutely nowhere, so I was left wondering just why this conversation was a part of this story.

Janine: I think it was just there to establish that they had moved and were starting over, and that Kate was planning on a normal life but was (somewhat humorously) constitutionally incapable of leading one. But it would be cool if this became more of a plot point in a future book.

I forgot to say that the pacing and the balance of action with humor was just as excellent it usually is in their books. What’s your grade for the book, Sirius? It’s a B/B+ for me.

Sirius: I liked the pacing too. Heh, same grade for me, exactly the same.

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Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character-driven novels in romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Examples include novels by Ilona Andrews, Mary Balogh, Aster Glenn Gray, Helen Hoang, Piper Huguley, Lisa Kleypas, Jeannie Lin, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, Naomi Novik, Nalini Singh, and Megan Whalen Turner. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.

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